Gateway to poultry production and products

Sociocultural and gender aspects

For many families in developing countries, poultry are more than a source of income or food but also play social and cultural roles. For example, birds are given away as gifts, sacrificed to ancestors and divinities, or consumed as part of traditional celebrations – thereby strengthening important social bonds. In some societies, chickens may be used to divine the future while, for the oldest and poorest members of rural communities, owning and consuming poultry confers social status.

Cockfighting is still a male pursuit in a number of countries, including India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and Peru. Owners of fighting cocks have a very close relationship with their birds and prize the status they afford. Such animals can fetch very high prices.

Poultry also play a significant role in the lives of women. In most rural societies in Africa, Asia and Latin America, women are responsible for the day-to-day management of family poultry. Reasons include: 

  • Family poultry production requires little initial investment and generates quick and frequent returns. This model suits women’s household budgeting.
  • Family poultry keeping does not usually conflict with women’s other household duties.
  • In places where religious beliefs or social norms require women to stay in their homes, compounds or villages, poultry keeping makes a convenient income-earning activity. 

Children often help women in managing the family flock. Men usually build night shelters, procure inputs and in some places are responsible for taking birds and eggs to market. This division of labour may change, however, since women’s involvement could decrease with the intensification of poultry production.

Although women are often responsible for poultry keeping, they typically face greater challenges than males. Women often have poorer access to, and control over, resources such as land, credit, labour, technology and the services necessary to take advantage of growth opportunities. In many cases, they do not have full ownership of the birds, or hold decision-making powers regarding them or income from their sale.